The Book Cellar
Three Things I Like: coffee, acro-yoga, and fairytales
Currently Reading: Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson
Helen Oyeyemi is a masterful writer—poetic, witty, and captivating. Each of the short stories in this collection is tentatively connected by their characters and by themes of locks, keys, doors and books, yet each also seems to create its own secret world. In each new world, I was immediately entranced by its mystery and, inevitably, its poignant tragedy.
Beautiful, heartbreaking, a must-read. Told through the perspective of a child forced to navigate a dangerous and confusing world, this story is about discovering truth in a world that lies in many languages. In the way that children learn a first language, some things are understood without needing to be expalined. This is how we discover some things to be magical, no matter the explanation behind them. This is how we learn that love is dangerous—and our only hope for survival.
Uprooted is an unapologetic fairy tale brimming with enchantments, sorcery, and foreboding evil forces; reading it reminded me of why I fell in love with magic. Like my teenage self, Agnieszka is inexperienced, completely naive, and a total klutz, yet she kicks some wizarding butt as she learns to trust herself and outsmarts some really pompous bullies. This book has a bit of everything a good fantasy should: undying frienships, gory swordfights, and sparks-flying romance—yes, things get a little steamy—so read it and let's talk about it! But seriously, it's good.
I don't think I can accurately describe how powerful this book was to me. The women who live in these pages are fictional characters, but they are oh so real. Mothers, daughters, aunts, sisters, young women, old women, soon to be dying women, these stories tell it all through the eyes of women who have born their burdens, braved their struggles, and come out alive, if barely. Tough women, strong women—not strong because they have control over their world, rather as life deals them inevitable abuse and violation, these women show their resilience by baring their scars.
If you love epic fantasy worlds, complete with elaborate histories, lore, and systems of magic; if you enjoy multiple story lines following fleshy characters; if you are intrigued by intricate power struggles that promise to develop over many more books to come; then you must start reading the first book in this great new fantasy series by Michael J. Sullivan.
Clever and fearless, The Diabolic doesn't hold back. Set in an inter-galactic future with a political structure based on the ancient Roman Empire, violent plots and ruthless adversaries are interwoven with dysfunctional families, first loves, and unbreakable friendships. Topped off with a kick-ass protagonist named Nemesis, this book is pretty awesome.
If you haven't read Nicola Yoon's first novel, Everything, Everything, I'm going to tell you to read it right now. But then, you must read The Sun Is Also a Star, which is even better. Yoon creates characters that you are sure to fall in love with and stories that are both real and hopelessly optimistic. For fans of John Green, these are must-reads.
Not only an insightful reimagining of a biblical figure, this is a great novel in its own right. Framed in a beautifully crafted historic setting, fleshed with brokenly human characters, and propelled by a gripping plot of war and politics, this is a story of how one man lead a struggling nation of farmers to become a kingdom feared by their neighbors. It is a story of great love and great loss, great faith and great failings. I haven't stopped thinking about it.
Amy Leach's essays are quick and refreshing, the perfect lunchtime read. They are also both whimsical and fascinating. Like taking a nature walk guided by a woodland fairy, Amy's writing will show you the world around you (and perhaps the world inside you) through a new, fantastic perspective.
The Accident Season is a haunting and riveting tale that shows how sometimes the memories and relationships that shape us can be as unshakeable as ghosts and as deadly as a curse. A perfect read for a gloomy October night, or anytime you want to feel some goose prickles.
Things get complicated when a girl who is allergic to everything falls in love for the first time. Madeline's story will make you feel all the feels as she chooses between the safety of the world she knows and the adventure of the unknown, finally discovering what is worth Everything, Everything.
This book is perfect for introverted book nerds or anyone who loves The Little Prince.
Though only a few pages each, I haven't been able to read two of these stories consecutively. Like eating a hearty meal, reading one of these stories requires that you sit back awhile upon finishing. Not to say that they are heavy or tedious, rather that they leave a rich, lingering flavor that is best appreciated when allowed to unfold slowly. Great for a long train ride or a quiet evening.